Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.
Saturday, March 13th, 1802
To my surprise as I entered Emma's sweet parlour, there sat the very Miss Harringtons that Mr Wickham had made reference to in our recent discourse. They are Harriet’s distant cousins on her mother’s side of the family and I am pleased to report that they seem jolly girls, if a little plain and dowdy. After the formality of the initial introductions, our subject for conversation turned naturally towards those with whom we have most in common.
“It has been so dull since your sister left, Miss Fitzalan,” I remarked, “Kitty and I have not bothered to venture out so much. Everything is so tedious at this time of year, the cold, the wind, the dirty walks, even the officers have failed to inspire our notice, despite all the efforts of your very own sweet Colonel. Mr Wickham who is a great favourite has lately been completely taken over by Mary King, so we have not even been able to enjoy his society. We enjoyed such a round of parties and balls in December and, I daresay, the seasonal celebrations have taken their toll. But now you are come and we have been so starved of like minds with which to have a lark, that you are a sight to behold!”
“Miss Bennet, I am heartily glad to have made your acquaintance at last. I have heard of nothing else from Isabella but of you and your sisters for the past two months, and you are truly a dear friend, I hope to us both,” Harriet replied. “I am sorry that your sisters are otherwise engaged, I long to meet them all. I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to be here at last. I could not let Isabella forgo invitations to Meryton and Bath and, as it has worked out, I could not have wished for a better outcome. I am thrilled that Isabella has found herself a husband.”
“If only we could go to Bath, Penelope,” sighed the elder Miss Harrington, “I’m sure we would have a better chance at getting ourselves wed. I think husbands grow on trees in that place. Last winter my cousin Sophia caught herself a fine one after just one week’s visit and he was by no means the first who applied for her hand!”
“I think we can safely conjecture that anyone of us here might have caught the notice of an impoverished handsome Lord, for that was what he was,” laughed Penelope, “if we had Sophia’s fortune. She had the money and he had the title, so it suited them both. I am not convinced that any trips to Bath, Brighton or Cheltenham would have any benefits for our health, our wealth or our chances of matrimony, I daresay we would come back poorer than we went. Unless a young man is going to be smitten by my looks and charm, I would say that my chances of embracing the married state are nought. What say you, Miss Bennet?”
“I have always supposed that my face would be my fortune, I have nothing else to offer in the way of riches except my natural allurements and, I own that life as a spinster without the prospect of marriage has never been a consideration. I have read of many cases where love is the motive and even Kings have been smitten with ordinary girls, quite out of their sphere.” I said. “Besides, we have an example of true love right under our very noses,” I persisted, “Miss Fitzalan and Colonel Forster, a love match made in heaven.”
Harriet blushed. “Well, I hope whilst I am here that I may find husbands for you all,” she said. “And I do hope that you are going to help and advise me on the best places to go for wedding clothes, as Henry and I will be married here by special license in April. There is not much time and I do not know where to start, although Isabella has made a suggestion that a trip to St Albans may be the very thing to put me out of my misery.”
“I have been there occasionally with mama and papa,” I said, "and the shops are magnificent. There are mantua makers and warehouses full of imported cloths, fine India muslins, local silk and all manner of straw bonnets and headpieces. It is but twelve miles away from here along good roads. There are forty coaches a day and it would make a lovely day trip. 'tis a pity you could not have come sooner, I have been to the fair at Michaelmas and witnessed all the gaiety of the country for many miles around, exhibitions and shows of the wonderful and marvellous, including Mr Richardson’s travelling theatre and performers.”
“How delightful!” Harriet exclaimed. “A trip to St Alban’s will exceed my expectations I am sure and you must all accompany me. Henry can come too, lest we be attacked by robbers and we will take the coach. Emma, you will of course be our chaperone, won’t you? What do you say to our little adventure? What a handsome scheme!”
The Misses Harrington clapped in their excitement. There were nods and exclamations of approval all round.
Harriet has suggested a date of the 22nd March, se’ennight following the Assembly Ball. I must speak to mama about some allowance for my pocket. I knew life would be more fun with Harriet in town!